Attendees of Prepared Foods’ R&D Seminars were interested in increasing the palatability of gluten-free products. 

Gluten-free and Other Formulation Challenges

Attendees of Prepared Foods’ R&D Seminars were interested in increasing the palatability of gluten-free products. Ingredients, such as starch, hydrocolloids and pea proteins, help improve structure and texture, resulting in good flavor and presentation. Information on a prebiotic fiber and emulsifier for trans fat-free products was also presented.

Gluten-free Strategies
Celiac sprue is an intolerance to gliadin, a wheat protein fraction also found in barley, rye and, possibly, oats. It is not a wheat allergy, but an inflammation of the small intestine that results in the malabsorption of nutrients; it may be accompanied by lactose intolerance.

“Symptoms of celiac include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, weakness, malnutrition and dermatitis,” explained Mary Jean Cash, senior staff scientist at Aqualon (now Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients, AAFI), during her speech titled, “Gluten-free Strategies.” To manage the condition, gluten must be avoided for life. Very small amounts of gluten can cause problems, even at 0.1g daily; therefore, gluten contamination is a concern. Estimated worldwide prevalence (based on screening data) shows that one in 133 people have celiac disease. The National Institutes of Health estimate that up to 1% of the U.S. population is largely undiagnosed. [Editor’s note: A study in the July issue of Gastroenterology also places the incidence of celiac disease at about one in 100 people.]

Gluten-free product sales reached 7 million in 2006 and are estimated to hit $1.7 billion by 2010, constituting up to 40% of health food store sales. People on gluten-free diets include not only those seeking relief from celiac sprue, but also people with fibromyalgia or autism, as well as those embracing new, restrictive diets or those wanting to try new grains. This diet can be difficult, because bread is an intrinsic part of the Western diet, in the form of sandwiches, pizza, breakfast and fast food. Commercial offerings are sparse, typically found only in specialty bakeries or on the Internet. Cash said consumers are challenged with learning gluten-free home meal preparation and in need of education.

In baked goods, gluten has a key function in extensibility, mixing tolerance, gas-holding ability and also gives structure. One common challenge with the absence of gluten is that developers have to work with a liquid batter rather than a dough. Some problems found in gluten-free finished products are a crumbly texture, poor color and poor crust.

Cash stated hydrocolloids are of great use in gluten-free formulations. Often used are xanthan, guar gum, cellulose gum or methylcellulose. Starches, except wheat, soy proteins, emulsifiers and low-lactose dairy ingredients, are also helpful in gluten-free formulas. (See chart “Gluten-free Bread Starter Formula.”)

Some findings in gluten-free bread are that insufficient xanthan (<0.3%) results in a fluid dough unable to retain gas. Too much xanthan (>0.5%) results in a tough dough and a hard bread after baking. Cash stated that, with methylcellulose, bread was firm, somewhat tough, at varying levels of xanthan, and it was not possible to make bread with methylcellulose alone.

Cellulose gum (CMC) and hydroxypropylcellulose (HPMC) made a soft, more pliable bread, with the appearance of finer air cells. The conclusion is that a combination of HPMC and CMC renders soft bread texture and lighter crumb structure. Cash also offered suggestions for gluten-free muffin mix. She found the addition of guar and xanthan increased volume and lightened texture. Additional xanthan created a finer texture and suspended inclusions.

Some nutrition challenges are reductions in fiber, protein and other nutrients found in wheat through enrichment and fortification. Increased levels of fat and calories also often accompany gluten-free products. Protein and fiber content can be improved by using whole grains, inulin, amaranth and quinoa. Protein also can be increased with low-lactose dairy ingredients. Calorie density may be reduced with hydrocolloids and fiber.

To meet proposed FDA requirements, the gluten-free label would not contain any species of wheat, rye, barley or any cross-bred hybrids of these grains. Nor would it contain any ingredient derived from these grains that has not been processed to remove gluten, or any ingredient that contributes 20ppm of gluten. Foods that are inherently gluten-free would not be allowed to use the label.
“Gluten-free Strategies,” Mary Jean Cash, senior staff scientist, Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients (AAFI), 
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Tapioca Starch Improves Gluten-free Products
The gluten-free market is a niche market that is showing strong growth, agreed another conference speaker. “Gluten-free products are in demand, not only in the U.S., but worldwide,” stated Eric Shinsato, technical sales support manager for Corn Products International, during a presentation titled, “Gluten-free Products Made Better Using Modified Tapioca Starch.”

Traditionally, gluten-free products have a reputation for a dry consistency and bland flavor. Improving the taste and texture, adding nutrition and variety, and redesigning brands and packaging are the objectives of most gluten-free marketers. However, without gluten, baked goods often lose consistency, have weak structure, lack gas retention, lose moisture and pose processing issues, because the “dough” they are working with is not really dough, noted Shinsato.

Alternative flours used in gluten-free baking include rice, sorghum, bean, soy, potato, amaranth, quinoa, teff, nut flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch and arrowroot starch. Doughs made with these flours are not typical. For example, cake batters, which are supposed to be pourable, are sticky and must be scooped or spread. Pita bread dough will be fairly runny. Pan bread dough is not thick enough to knead with the dough hook.

Despite these setbacks, retail stores have seen an increase in product introductions, with gluten-free products promising improved quality, but at an increased cost. While consumers have more choices, they are still dogged by the short shelflife of most freshly baked items.

There is one proprietary, modified tapioca starch that can improve taste, texture, appearance and shelflife of gluten-free bakery items, explained Shinsato. It produces structures and textures that resemble wheat-based products and complements alternative flours used in gluten-free baking. This specialty modified tapioca starch also can reduce the amount of gums used in the product.

The proprietary process differentiates this specialty modified tapioca starch from other starches. Compared with regular tapioca starch, it has unique expansion properties, when used in baked and fried bakery items. The amount of expansion varies, depending on the amount used and how the product is made. The finished product better retains moisture to maintain quality throughout the shelflife of the product. It promotes water-binding and freeze/thaw stability and provides a clean, neutral flavor with no grit.

Bread-baking tips include adding a .25-.5 cup of specialty modified tapioca starch to increase expansion in sorghum flour-based bread. To increase expansion of rice flour-based bread, substitute .75 cup rice flour with 1 cup of specialty modified tapioca starch.

Shinsato concluded that the gluten-free sector is a growth market. It is possible for them to have the taste, texture  and appearance of wheat-based products by incorporating this specialty modified tapioca starch.

Separately, the FDA has not officially defined gluten-free, but is expected to accept the proposed 20ppm maximum of gluten for a product to be labeled gluten-free.
 “Gluten-free Products Made Better Using Modified Tapioca Starch,” Eric Shinsato, technical sales support manager,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

  All-natural Protein for Healthful Formulations
Vegetable proteins are one of the fastest-growing and innovative ingredient segments in the food industry. They can be of assistance in formulations where other proteins, such as gluten, are removed. Advances in technology have allowed plant proteins with improved functionalities. In grains, proteins are associated with anti-nutritional factors that reduce digestibility and bioavailability. The selection of variety and the process steps allow elimination or reduction of the anti-nutritional factors in the final product.

Chandani Perera, project coordinator, Roquette America Inc., explained that vegetable proteins, such as pea protein, provide low-cost advantages over animal proteins and unique characteristics and opportunities for the food industry, in his presentation titled, “Pea Protein, an All-natural Protein for Healthful Formulations.”

According to Mintel, in 2008, new product launches with meatless claims have steadily increased over the past several years. A traditional food, the yellow pea provides an alternative to soy protein that is rich in essential amino acids and leaves no digestive discomfort. Since it is a purified protein source, there are no residual sugars. Perera adds that the pea protein is also not a major allergen.

Not only complex sugars, such as alpha-galactosides, stachyose and verbascose, but also tannins and saponins, are removed through the dry and wet steps of the protein purification process.  Removal of these components decreases the possibility of flatulence, stomach discomfort and bitterness.

Pea protein is an all-natural protein source with approximately 85% protein on a dry basis, one of the highest sources of plant protein. The protein content of the pea can be divided into albumins (20-25%), which are soluble in water, and the globulins (75-80%), which include legumin, vicilin and convicilin, storage proteins that are soluble in salt solutions.

Pea protein exhibited a 98% protein digestibility score in piglets, compared with 88% for yellow pea flour, 92% for soy isolate and 86% for soy flour. A higher solubility at lower pH sets pea protein apart from soy protein. Solubility increases as pH deviates from the isoelectric point.

Other functions include good dispersibility, emulsification properties, excellent flowability, less foam formation and high stability. Using pea protein results in stable, emulsified products after storage in refrigeration (without heat treatment) and after pasteurization for 1 hour at 30-75°C (then stored at 4°C).

In sausage, pea protein promotes water-holding capacity, increasing cook yield. In trials, 6% meat was replaced by 1.5% pea protein and 4.5% water. (See chart “Water Loss During Cooking of Strasbourg Sausage.”) Firmness and the elasticity of sausages with pea protein showed comparable results to those with caseinate or soy. Other applications include snacks, vegetarian and prepared meals, paté, sauces and dressings, soups, pasta, meal substitutes, sport mixes, cereal and protein bars, extruded products and baked goods.

Perera points out product opportunities that include breakfast or snack cereal crisps with 30% protein; cereal crisps for granola bars with 65% protein; gluten-free cookies with 3g protein per serving; gluten-free, texturized pea protein for meatless applications (chili and burgers); high-protein shake mixes; and microwavable meal replacement soups with 15g protein per serving.

Pea protein, with excellent functional properties and a neutral taste, is an overall functional and nutritional ingredient for new, healthy foods.
“Pea Protein, an All-natural Protein for Healthful Formulations,” Chandani Perera, project coordinator, Roquette America Inc.,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

  Formulating Better Structure into Gluten-free Breads
For celiac sufferers, a gluten-free diet means no bread, pasta, cakes or pizza containing wheat or gluten. “The only effective treatment currently is a lifelong gluten-free diet,” explained Lori Spurlock, technical sales leader, Dow Wolff Cellulosics, in a speech titled, “Building Better Structure in Gluten-free Breads.”

An alternative is finding gluten-free versions of these products. Many gluten-free grains and starches exist for the formulation of baked goods. Flours made from nuts and seeds can also be used. However, in dough, it is the gluten, composed of the proteins gliadin and glutenin, that develops into a viscoelastic network, trapping gas in the fermentation process of bread production. “In removing this property in a gluten-free product, it must be somehow replaced in order to have height and tenderness in products,” agrees Spurlock.

Proprietary food gums, which are water-soluble methylcellulose and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose polymers, offer a solution to gluten replacement. They are allergen-free and a good source of dietary fiber, and offer unique benefits that mimic gluten and address issues faced by developers of gluten-free products, such as aiding with dough structure and development.

This technology is based on cellulose (derived from natural sources) undergoing a proprietary procedure that enables its unique emulsifying and thermal gelling characteristics. This supports the replacement of gluten throughout the bakery process. Hydrocolloids can also affect the rheological behavior of dough, as they mimic the viscoelastic properties of gluten and trap water.

Dough processing is a high-shear procedure, and this proprietary ingredient, like gluten, is very process-tolerant and resistant to this shear. As gluten-free batters are usually mixed quite intensely to develop and distribute ingredients, it is key to use hydrocolloids that will not be damaged by high-shear processing. Moreover, it has been observed that the film-forming properties act as a lubricant inside the batter and protect the other formulation ingredients from being damaged by mixing--particularly starch granules. And, finally, cellulose gums are used widely in food products for their surface active properties. This surface activity, derived from hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, provides reduced surface tension between the water and air/water/fat inside the dough. This provides the unique emulsifying properties that are necessary to mimic the gluten protein.

Once the structure of the gluten-free products has been set by baking, they are packed and stored. Typically, gluten aids in retaining freshness or retarding staling, as it helps to delay starch retrogradation. However, in the absence of gluten, starch undergoes a rapid retrogradation, and the staling of gluten-free products can occur quite quickly. The ability to trap water, as described in the first mixing stage, will slow down the dehydration rate of gluten-free products and enhance their shelflife and freshness.
 “Building Better Structure in Gluten-free Breads,” Lori Spurlock, technical sales leader, Dow Wolff Cellulosics,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

  Frozen Desserts with Prebiotic Fibers
“Prebiotic fibers are increasingly well-known for their ability to enhance health in a number of exciting ways, specifically boosting immune function,” said Cristina Munteanu, senior food applications specialist, GTC Nutrition, in her speech titled, “Frozen Desserts Enhanced with Prebiotic Fiber to Boost Immune Health.” In addition to the health aspects of these ingredients, prebiotics also can bring valuable, functional benefits to a food formulation. She mentioned that a unique short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide prebiotic fiber is ideal for enhancing the nutritional value and functionality of frozen desserts.

Munteanu reports that mature adults have an increased rate of chronic disorders, infections and autoimmune disorders, and the large intestine is the largest immune tissue in the body. This unique, soluble dietary fiber, with ß bonds that are not digested by human intestinal enzymes, passes through the mouth, stomach and small intestine intact. This ingredient is fermented by intestinal bacteria and enhances digestive health, as supported by greater than 20 years of scientific research. The soluble fiber is found in dietary sources, but to get the same amount as one teaspoon of the proprietary ingredient, one would need to eat 15 onions, 22 bananas or 383 cloves of garlic, said Munteanu.

Prebiotics are food for the “good” bacteria, and the colon is host to about 3lbs of both beneficial and detrimental bacteria. Prebiotic fibers promote a beneficial microflora balance, inhibit the growth of pathogens and restore microflora following antibiotic use. The benefit of this short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide soluble fiber is an increase in Bifidobacteria at a minimum dose of 1g per day in healthy adults, adults with metabolic syndrome and elderly patients.

The beneficial bacteria preferentially metabolize short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides and produce short-chain fatty acids. This fiber enhances absorption of calcium and magnesium, as well as digestive and immune function. Clinical studies have shown a heightened response to the influenza vaccine in seniors. Anti-inflammatory effects have been seen in pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, IBS and mild functional bowl disorder.

Application opportunities include bakery, bars, beverages, confections, desserts, dairy and dairy alternatives, and supplements and special dietary products. Due to its short-chain structure, the prebiotic fiber possesses functional qualities similar to sugar or glucose syrup. This fiber is low-calorie (1.5Kcal/g), 30% as sweet as sucrose and can be formulated into foods, without adding viscosity.

Additional formulation benefits include the use of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides in combination with high-intensity sweeteners to provide a balanced sweetness profile and mask the aftertaste of aspartame or acesulfame-k. Short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides lower the freezing point, contribute to body and mouthfeel, do not participate in Maillard browning and enhance desirable flavors. These properties allow foods that look and taste like typical food formulations.

A soft serve ice cream enhanced with this specialty prebiotic featured 1g per serving at a 1.6% use level. It promoted a smooth body and texture, creaminess and excellent flavor.

At the rate of 1g per day, digestive and immune health structure/function claims can be made, such as “promotes digestive function,” “increases levels of good bacteria” or “supports healthy immune system function.” At 3g per day, it promotes bone health by enhancing calcium absorption. The product can be labeled as “fructo-oligosaccharides,” FOS, fructan or scFOS.

Great-tasting products containing prebiotic fiber can be formulated to support immune health. The consumption of frozen desserts containing this specialty prebiotic fiber may provide important immune health effects.
 “Frozen Desserts Enhanced with Prebiotic Fiber to Boost Immune Health,” Cristina Munteanu, senior food applications specialist, GTC Nutrition, 
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

  Chicago: Nutritious Cakes
In Europe, smoothies are becoming very popular because of their reputation for health, antioxidants and other nutritious components. As a result, the idea of a smoothie cake, with reduced fat and calories, was born. Hans-Henrik Wikman, technical sales manager for Palsgaard A/S, presented ideas on how to make such a cake in a speech titled, “Nutritious Smoothie Cakes.” Two concepts were presented, a vegetable-based and a fruit-based smoothie cake. Vegetable smoothie cakes can contain carrots, broccoli, emulsifier and cake flour, accompanied by a vegetable juice composed of tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, capsicum, salad, celery, lemon, onion, olive oil and basil. The smoothie cake with fruits contained citrus fiber, tropical mango, pineapple, pomegranate, emulsifier, cake flour and fruit juice composed of orange, pineapple, passion fruit, banana, guava, mango, tangerine and orange pulp.

Smoothie cakes can be light and airy, with little fat and added pureed fruits or vegetables, in a multiphase batter system. Multiphase systems consist of two or more distinctive phases, such as water in oil, solid in oil, gas in liquid and so on. Emulsifiers can promote the stability of such systems by reducing surface tension between the phases.

A high-quality cake needs to be very springy and have a tight crumb structure--emulsifiers come in to play here, as well. An emulsifier is a molecule with amphiphilic properties, meaning that part of the structure is hydrophilic and the other is lipophilic. In a multiphase system, the emulsifier reduces the surface tension between the two phases. Typical food emulsifiers are mono- and diglycerides, lactylates, citric acid ester of monoglycerides or polyglycerol esters (PGE).

Aeration is an emulsifier’s primary function in cakes, but issues may be encountered. Emulsifiers can be difficult to disperse in a food system. An alternative to conventional emulsifiers, offered Wikman, is an instant cake emulsifier, a polyglycerol ester present on the surface of rice starch, in activated powder form. This product is a strong, instant aeration powder that reacts fast and aids in a shorter mixing time. It absorbs high amounts of oil and is easy to dose. This instant cake emulsifier exhibits full functionality with a variety of raw materials. It can be used with trans-free, non-hydrogenated oils and is HACCP-friendly. In a low- or no-fat batter, such as in the smoothie cakes, this polyglycerol ester holds the air cells by interacting with the flour proteins to form an equilibrium in the form of a flexible film. The polyglycerol ester is very dynamic and, in a batter system, it quickly migrates and reorganizes during cell expansion or the forming of new air cells. Proteins are very slow in migration and contribute little to new air cells.

Today, the trend is toward low- or no-trans fat, no hydrogenated fat, lower calories, low-fat, low-sugar, few or no allergens and kosher. However, there are still pound cake batter systems with higher fat content. Wikman explained how the fat crystals in higher fat cake systems, together with PGE and monoglycerides, cover the air cell interfaces during aeration. At the high temperature of baking, the fat melts to a liquid film stabilized by the interaction of the emulsifiers. During cooling, the fat crystallizes at the interface. PGE acts as a crystal promoter, increasing the rate of crystal formation. A high speed of crystallization will form many small fat crystals, better covering the interface. Small crystals result in better organoleptic properties.
 “Nutritious Smoothie Cakes,” Hans-Henrik Wikman, technical sales manager, Palsgaard A/S,,
-- Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editorpf